Polish parliament debates anti-LGBT legislative proposal



WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish lawmakers on Thursday held a moving debate on a bill titled “Stop LGBT”, which would ban pride parades and other public gatherings purported to “promote” same-sex relationships.

Lawmakers are due to vote on Friday to reject or continue work on the proposal, which is a citizens’ legislative initiative that has been submitted to parliament by conservative activists.

One of the activists who introduced the bill, Krzysztof Kasprzak, opened his address to lawmakers by describing the LGBT rights movement as a form of totalitarianism. He compared it to Nazism and accused it of seeking “to overthrow the natural order and introduce terror”.

WÅ‚odzimierz Czarzasty, vice-speaker of the left-wing parliament, called it the “most disgusting speech” he had heard in his two years in this post.

A series of opposition lawmakers – from the left, from the center and even from a conservative group – denounced the bill as inhuman, homophobic or a violation of the right to assembly guaranteed by the Polish constitution.

He received praise from far-right lawmakers, while Piotr Kaleta, a lawmaker from the ruling right-wing conservative Law and Justice party, waved photos showing scenes of pride parades he described as shocking.

“We want normalcy in Poland,” Kaleta said. “If you accuse us of being in the Middle Ages, then we want to be in this Middle Ages.

It was not clear whether the proposal had the support to move forward.

Poland’s right-wing nationalist government is already embroiled in a bitter conflict with the European Union over judicial independence and the rule of law. Warsaw might therefore not want to open another front with its EU partners, most of whom strongly oppose any discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexual and transgender people.

Under Polish law, citizens can submit legislative proposals to parliament if they obtain the signatures of at least 100,000 eligible voters. The Life and Family Foundation, which lobbied successfully for a recent restriction on the right to abortion, collected 140,000 signatures for its “Stop LGBT” proposal.

In a statement released Thursday, human rights group Amnesty International said that if passed into law, the proposal would put the rights of LGBT people in Poland “more than ever at risk”.

“We call on Polish (legislators) to recognize that love is love and to reject this hateful proposition which is discriminatory in its essence,” said Nils Muižnieks of Amnesty.

“This initiative may not have come from the Polish government, but let’s be clear: the government’s normalization of hate rhetoric has created an environment in which people feel empowered to spit out bigotry,” Muižnieks added.

In recent years, Polish lawmakers, including the president, have lambasted what they call “LGBT ideology”, portraying it as something that prematurely sexualizes young people and threatens the country’s traditional Roman Catholic values.

Most of the anti-LGBT rhetoric came during election campaigns, although two years ago dozens of Polish communities passed resolutions declaring themselves free from “LGBT ideology” or adopted family charters stressing that families are based on unions of men and women.

But recently, faced with the threat of a loss of EU funding, some Polish regions have repealed anti-LGBT resolutions.


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